In September, Fertile Ground played it safe. It announced that the 2022 program of its annual festival of new and in-process theater works would once again unfold virtually.
But since the fall, booster shots, vaccines for children, and overall declining cases of COVID in Multnomah County have created more confidence in the area’s theater community and caused some of the festivals’ producers to offer in-person performances, alongside the virtual ones.
“Instead of presenting Fertile Ground projects via their online distribution platforms, the festival will return to being a marketing platform for these new works and directing audiences to producers’ virtual (recorded and livestreamed) and in-person productions,” reads a Dec. 5 press release that also announced the schedule for 2022’s 11-day festival.
The idea that Fertile Ground would focus more on promoting and supporting the productions instead of trying to present 38 projects from 36 producers via a single online gateway (a feat taken on in 2021) was always in the cards. So attendees should expect to interact with a variety of online platforms. For instance, SOUL’D: the economics of our Black body (the joy edition) plans to present in Vimeo whereas Michael Streeter and RaChelle Schmidt’s Enemy of the People will be streamed on Facebook and performed in person at Portland Center Stage’s Julie Vigeland Rehearsal Hall. Similarly, where 2021 was donation-based, 2022 productions will set their own ticket prices.
Like last year, Fertile Ground has also once again awarded $500 to five projects “to increase access and decrease financial barriers…to new voices,” the release reads. Since the festival returns to an uncurated format this year, the Grow Awards and a similar list of Grow Light selections seek to “shine a light” on projects you may want to pay special attention to—due to alignment with the festival’s mission or their representation of underrepresented communities.
Fertile Ground Festival of New Works takes place Thursday through Sunday, Jan. 27-Feb. 6. Find the complete schedule and list of productions at fertilegroundpdx.org.